Ice, Ice Baby

The desert gets cool with the addition of the nation’s first permanent ice lounge

By: By Ryan Slattery

The Details

Minus 5 Ice Lounge at Mandalay Place
3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Hours: 10 a.m.-3 a.m. every day
Admission: $30 (includes one drink and a 30-minute experience)

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Never did I think I would wear a parka in Las Vegas. Actually, I would have taken the odds and bet against it ever happening. After all, the reason I moved to the desert was to avoid the chilly Boston winters. But here I was, slipping on a blue parka waiting to go into the freezer. And when they handed me mittens, I laughed, thinking to myself, "honestly, how cold can it really be?"

Well, after about 10 minutes in the newly opened Minus 5 Ice Lounge at Mandalay Place, I had the fur-lined hood pulled over my head and mittens on. Say what you will, but minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) is cold, indeed.

Cocktails are served in glasses made of frozen New Zealand artisan water. // (c) Minus 5
Cocktails are served in glasses made of frozen New Zealand artisan water.

Now, clients looking for the coolest place in Vegas to sip a cocktail — from glasses made of frozen New Zealand artesian water — have their spot.

First in America
When Minus 5 opened in late September, it became the first permanent ice lounge in the U.S., and the sixth to be operated by the Minus 5 Group, a New Zealand-based company. Three other U.S. locations — Miami’s South Beach, New York City and Honolulu — are in the works.

So why did Minus 5 break the proverbial ice in Las Vegas of all places?

"It’s the center point of entertainment in America," explained Craig Ling, president and founder of Minus 5. "It’s the place everyone comes. Why not have a bar made of ice in the middle of the desert? That’s the novelty of it."

Visitors to Minus 5 will toss on parkas over their T-shirts and swap flip-flops for boots before entering. Once inside, they’ll find a lounge made entirely of ice — from the bar and benches to the chandeliers and candelabras. Minus 5 opened, fittingly enough, with a guitar strumming, six-foot ice Elvis in the center of the room. The sculptures, according to Ling, will be switched out every six to eight weeks to change the mood and reflect the season.

"People are going to be blown away by the ice sculptures and the artwork in this attraction," said Anthony Leenders, operations manager for Minus 5 in Las Vegas.

"When it comes to the sculptures, it’s only limited to your imagination."

It costs $30 for clients to enter Minus 5, and they can stay for 30 minutes. The admission price includes the choice of one exotic, fruit juice-infused vodka cocktail. But be warned: the drinks are strong and "mocktails" are available for non-drinkers. While drinking, the lounge plays top 40 and classic rock music.

The Minus 5 Lodge
Although it won’t be completed until later this year, the Minus 5 Lodge will leave clients with that warm and fuzzy feeling after they step out of the sub-freezing lounge. The lodge will have a ski hut look and feel with ironwood beams, river stones, leather seats and an open fireplace to warm your bones.

Ice Weddings 
Talk about cold feet. Minus 5 also offers wedding services, a first for the company. A portion of the lounge has been designed like a chapel so brides and grooms can have a true white wedding. The chapel area, like the lounge, is built entirely of ice with colorful, stained-ice windows and church-like benches and pews. Brides will walk down the aisle wearing white satin fur-lined capes, and grooms will also be outfitted in a long, fur cape. After exchanging vows, the newly married couple and their friends can toast with champagne — served, you guessed it, in champagne flutes crafted out of ice.

"The weddings are just something different," commented Leenders. "Everyone likes to do something different in Vegas."

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